Restoring a Rarity

September 20, 2017

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In 2015, Classic Motor Cars (CMC) of Bridgnorth, UK uncovered a remarkable example of a 1954 Jaguar XK120 that had been re-bodied by the famed Italian styling marque Pininfarina. Believed to only example ever built, the staff at CMC set out to completely restore the car and unveil it at the 2017 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance in California.

The exact history of how this remarkable Jaguar was created is uncertain. However, what is known is that this XK120 was first delivered to Automotive Hall of Fame Inductee Max Hoffman. Hoffman was an Austrian-born, New York-based vehicle dealer who is credited with single-handedly establishing the imported vehicle business in the United States.

Max Hoffman at his dealership in New York City

Hoffman (pictured left) was the middle European sales representative of marques like Rolls-Royce, Bentley, and Alfa Romeo before fleeing to the United States in 1941 to escape Nazi influence. He would open Hoffman Motors in New York City in 1947. His first client was Jaguar, for which he was the exclusive importer from 1948 until 1952. He later secured the exclusive U.S. importing rights for Mercedes Benz, Alfa Romeo, BMW, Fiat, Porsche, and numerous other manufacturers.

“Perhaps Hoffman inspired Pininfarina to style and produce such a rare XK? We just don’t know”, said David Barzilay, Chairman of CMC’s operating board. “There is little trace of the car’s history, but we are certain that Hoffman was the supplying dealer, then first owner of the car and that there was only one XK120 by Pininfarina produced, which makes this one of the rarest Jaguars in existence.”

CMC acquired the vehicle from a German gentleman in 2015 who had brought it in the USA in 1978 and planned to restore it. Unfortunately, he was unable to make that plan a reality and decided to sell the car. Over two years, CMC’s staff restored every aspect of the vehicle to its original luster. The team faced numerous challenges during the restoration, from finding and matching the original paint color to remaking the bumpers and rear window screen.

The Pinninfarina Jaguar arrived at CMC in a fairly complete but well worn state

“Some of the original parts were impossible to find so we had to remake items such as the bumpers and chrome work by hand from photographs” Barzilay said. “We had to scan the front and rear end of the car and make mock ups of the lights, which were then scanned and 3D printed. Smaller missing parts were also 3D printed in-house.”

In total, the restoration took 6,725 hours to complete. Despite the challenges, the restoration met its deadline and the car was successfully unveiled at the 2017 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance. The car was well received by the crowd of collectors and aficionados and finished second in its class. Peter Neumark, Chairman of the Employee Ownership Trust that runs CMC, said of the event “A great result! It was a privilege to take the cover off this long-lost Jaguar at one of the most important Concours in the world.”

The unveil at Pebble Beach

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